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Front Loader Washer - Door In Front Loading Washing Machines

Updated on August 24, 2014

Previously only seen in laundrettes and professional laundry services, front loading washing machines have started to become more popular in the home market. Traditionally, if you set foot inside anyone’s home you would find their laundry room washer was a top loader which is the most common style found in American homes. These have a door in the top through which you put your dirty laundry and a central agitator. In contrast, a front loader washer has a door in the face instead of a lift up lid and differs from a top filler in a number of ways. Basically the latter style is more efficient, uses less water and power, is gentler on clothing and is generally a more advanced piece of technology. They also cost quite a bit more, so there is a trade off to be made but many argue you will make back that money in water and power savings and start to save money in the long term instead.

What Is The Difference Between Front Load and Top Loading Washing Machines

On initial viewing, you may consider that the only difference between a front and top loading washing machine to be the door location. In the former, there is a lid on the top, whereas the latter generally has a glass door in the face of the appliance. Internally, however, the cleaning mechanism is very different. They both spin clothes to clean them but that is about where any similarity ceases to exist.

Top filled laundry machines pour gallons of water into a spinning drum mounted on a vertical axis. Your clothes then sit in this and are tossed around in the water by what is known as an agitator which is that shaft you see sticking up in the middle of the drum when you open the lid.

Front load washers, on the other hand, have a horizontally mounted drum which spins on a horizontal axis. There is no agitator but instead, the clothes are spun very fast and are lifted in and out of the water using centrifugal force. This has a number of advantages over the older method employed by top filled clothes laundering machines which will be discussed in more detail below.

Advantages and Benefits Of A Front Load Washing Machine

If you have your mind set on a new washer then you have probably been weighing the pros and cons of front loading vs top loading washing machines, the two main types on the market. There are much to be said for both, although the main benefits of the latter are generally outweighed by the newer technology of the former if you are willing to pay the initial extra money at the start as front loaders are more expensive.

Front Loaders Are Water Conservation Washing Machines

You will save money in the long term by conserving water if you opt for one of these. In fact, on average they use up to 50% - 60% less water per wash cycle than one of the flip top lid washers they compete with. That can be quite a saving although it is fair to say in most States water is a pretty cheap commodity so the savings aren't going to be huge unless you do an awful lot of laundry. For those who are concerned about water conservation however, and that really ought to be all of us, then these really are the better option.

A Front Filled Washer Will Save Electricity Too

In addition, by using at least 50% less water, they also have that much less water to heat up each time which also saves money on the amount of electricity required to do your laundry each time. Now the conservationists can put a smug smile on their faces because in this way those savings do start to mount up nicely. Less water and less electricity used to heat it means upgrading to this style of laundry machine starts paying for itself as time marches on.

The electricity saving feature doesn’t stop there however, as you will also save money on running your clothes dryer too…unless you use a laundry drying rack which is a much better ecologically sound solution. The best anterior loading washing machines spin the clothes really fast at the end of the cycle which removes far more excess water than the alternative does meaning your clothes will take less long in the dryer to get fully dry. Less time in the electric laundry dryer means even less money spent on electricity which is only a good thing both for your pocketbook and for the environment.

Save By Using Less Detergent

The final way in which these machines are great for the environment (remember, you have saved water, saved electricity in heating the water and saved electricity by running the dryer less) is they also use less detergent in a wash cycle. That said, you have to use more efficient washing soap as the lower quality washing soap produces too many soap suds.

Front Loading Washing Machines Make Your Clothes Last Longer

Top loaders have what is known as an agitator in the middle of the drum; it’s that shaft you see sticking up out of the middle when you open the lid up. The agitator tosses the clothes around in the water and can be quite harsh on fabric especially delicates. Front load laundry appliances do not have an agitator but instead spin the drum really fast, turning instead to centrifugal force to drive the detergent deep into your clothing and are as such, more gentle on your clothing. In addition, the aforementioned reduction in drying time also means your clothes will spend less time in the dryer which will also make them last longer as clothes dryers themselves are hard on fabric. There are new high efficiency flip top washing machines which have done away with the agitator also but these are harder to come by and come with a price tag which many will baulk at.

Wash More Clothes In The Same Size Drum

One of the things you will be looking for when choosing to replace a laundry appliance with a new one is the drum capacity. The size or capacity of a laundry appliance drum will vary from one model to the next, from those aimed at a single person, to family sized appliances with high capacity drums. Typically, a front fill washer compared to a top loader has more capacity when compared on a like for like basis. This is because the agitator takes up a lot of space inside the top loading style which is a problem a front load laundry machine does not have since this style doesn't have an agitator. This extra space can mean you are capable of doing larger amounts of laundry and again, this save you money over time on those ocassions when it means doing one instead of two cycles.

Reduce Noise On Laundry Day

A further nice feature of a front filling washing machine is that the amount of noise produced is much less than with a top loader. Just by the way they are designed, the quietest washer is always going to be one of those with the door in the anterior but if you want to make them quieter still, or if you own a noisy top loading washer you can stiffle much of the sounds they poduce by looking into such things as anti-vibration mats and noise reduction feet pads.

Stackable Washing Machines Save Space

If you have been researching you have probably seen stackable washing machines as a great way to save space in your laundry room. Stackable washer and dryer sets are awesome but you will definitely have to get one of the front loading style if this is your chosen way to go…obviously you can not stack top filled appliances on top of each other or you wouldn’t be able to open the lid! Stacking front accessed laundry machines will save you space and also raise at least one to a more manageable height if you have back or joint problems.

Disadvantages Of Front Load Washing Machines

For the most part, these are the better choice if you have the money to pay out in the first place as you will recoup it and save in the long term. They are quieter, more efficient and generally a better choice for most people. However, they are not without a few issues which may make them a deal breaker for you.

Lean In Or Crouch Down…

Washing machines with the door in the face might not be for everyone, especially for those with backand muscle issues. Bending over and reaching into the machine is easier for many than crouching down to the appliance and lifting the laundry out. That said, my mother keeps a stool by her front filled washer, sits down, leans over and pulls the clean clothes out into a laundry basket so there are always ways around this.

May Have To Switch Laundry Detergent Brands

Unfortunately, not every type or brand of laundry detergent is suitable for use in a front load washing machine meaning you may have to switch brands to get the best out of your appliance. A trade off here is that you will be able to use less of it which is better for the environment in general.


There are always pros and cons when it comes to shopping for different types of laundry machines and for that matter, just about any kind of consumer product. However, with the different types of laundry appliance, the choice is a little clearer. If price is the main issue, then you will want to go with a top loader washing machine which can cost as little as $300 for a basic model. If you can afford to pay double that, you should go with a front load washer as, not only will you more likely save money in the long term, but they are also better for the environment and they are the place where manufacturers are concentrating their new technology and efficiency features.

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